News May 19th 2015

Neuroscience Shows that Stress Inhibits Your Ability to Learn and Remember. How Can You Beat Stress Patterns Before Exams?

According to the results of a study published by the University of California – Irvine in 2008, short-term stress affects the capacity of learning and memorizing information. Short-term emotional tension of few hours impairs brain-cell communication with the same effects of long-term stress. As the dates of the final exams are getting closer, students are being subjected to increased levels of anxiety that affects their performance.

Children in primary schools find this period of the year especially problematic. High-brain neural networks, which help people manage stress and other emotions, haven't been fully developed in children. Thus, emotional tension inhibits the process of exchanging information between the upper cognitive brain and the lower, emotionally-reactive core of the brain.

When students are put under pressure to study and do well on the exams, their bodies don't collaborate. These discoveries made through neuroimaging research enables us to find different ways to solve the problem and help young students to cope with stress while developing healthy learning habits.

Exam stress

How to Deal with Exam Stress and Anxiety

1. Recognize the signs.

The first step towards solving the problem is the realization of the way your mind and body react in such situations. The excessive worries about the exams lead students to harsh self-criticism, lack of control over their mind patterns, irrational thinking and beliefs, pessimistic predictions, and lack of self-confidence. The first action towards finding a remedy is identifying the problem. Then, the student can make an effort to change the thinking pattern into the opposite direction.

2. Take a step forward

Once you realize that you are under stress, you need to make commitment to overcome the emotions that are undermining your performance. Sometimes you don't understand the entire course material. That is completely fine; you can ask for help from a friend, tutor, parent, or teacher. Getting stressed over the situation never helps. Face the problem without circumventing; only direct action against the problem you recognized can help you make a change.

3. Visualize successful performance.

If you keep convincing yourself that you won't make it, you need to start visualizing the opposite. This is an effective strategy that will reduce the levels of stress and pressure you are subjecting yourself to. Visualizing success will help you start believing in yourself more.

4. Understand that no one is perfect.

Students cannot get perfect scores on all exams, no matter how much they study. The struggle for perfection is only effective in increasing your stress levels. It is great to reach for the stars, but do not get too attached to the results. You should always do your best without expecting any praise and without comparing yourself to other students.

5. Try to relax!

The most obvious tactic against a stressed mind is to do something opposite. Try to calm you breath, relax, and have a healthy sleep. You cannot achieve your full potential if all you can think about is studying.

6. Stay focused on the greater perspective.

When you have one or several important exams to prepare for, they seem like the most important thing in the world. However, these moments are only a part of the grand pattern of your life. Keep your big goals in mind; they will enable you to focus on a greater perspective and realize that the exams are important, but they are not nearly as crucial as you thought they were.

7. Plan and rest!

One of the most effective ways to decrease the stress levels is to study progressively over a longer period of time. If you don't leave too much studying material for the week before the exams, you will feel much more confident that you can make it.

Rest is another important anti-stress factor. If your days are organized around studying and taking exams, you need good nutrition and healthy sleep more than ever.

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